The assessment and management of voiding dysfunction in adults living with cerebral palsy

World J Urol. 2023 Nov;41(11):3317-3323. doi: 10.1007/s00345-023-04603-9. Epub 2023 Sep 14.


Purpose: Improvements in life expectancy have resulted in an increasing number of adults with cerebral palsy, of which over a third will have neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction (NLUTD). This review explores urinary dysfunction in adults with cerebral palsy.

Methods: Relevant literature on NLUTD in adults with cerebral palsy was identified using an unrestricted search of PubMed.

Results: Urinary incontinence is the most common complaint, often accompanied by frequency and urgency. Special consideration should be given to women and in those with worse motor or cognitive dysfunction as they have been shown to have more severe urologic symptoms. NLUTD can have significant morbidity and impact quality of life. Hospital admission, urinary tract infections, and hydronephrosis are common urologic complications, with poor urinary function associated with decreased quality of life (QOL). Neurogenic detrusor overactivity is the most common urodynamic abnormality, with elevated detrusor leak point pressure and reduced bladder capacity. Detrusor sphincter dyssynergy is present in some patients and maybe secondary to generalized spasticity or incomplete upper motor neuron injury. Elevated bladder capacity is also present in a portion of patients, and becomes particularly relevant in adults as a result of increased spasticity of the urinary sphincter. Conservative management like functional toileting strategies, medications, and incontinence aids are successful in most patients. Medical management with anticholinergics is well described, and frequently the only intervention required, particularly in children. Intermittent clean catheterization has mixed results with this population, as its efficacy is limited by pelvic spasticity and patient factors. Surgical intervention, while often successful, should be restricted to select patients, as it is associated with significant morbidity in this population.

Conclusion: Management of NLUTD in adults with CP involves conservative management, medications, and in rare cases surgical intervention.

Keywords: Adult; Cerebral palsy; Lower urinary tract symptoms; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Palsy* / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy* / therapy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Urinary Bladder
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic* / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence* / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence* / therapy
  • Urodynamics / physiology